If you’ve spent any time at all at Tweetspeak, you know we think books matter. We read them with you about once a month, we review them, and The Press that helps support us publishes them. Related, we’re dedicated to the issue of literacy—for life.
So, of course, we’re interested in how literacy happens and how it’s sustained.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits, identifies 5 main characteristics of “wild readers”—the people most likely to embrace literacy for life.
5 Main Characteristics of Wild Readers
1. They dedicate time to read.
From setting aside full days to read, to reading “on the edges,” wild readers make time to read or gather reading time from unexpected places. One big key is to be prepared for “reading emergencies,” by always carrying a book or three with you. I know I never leave the house without several books in hand. How about you?
2. They self-select reading material.
Wild readers identify a number of book-discovery sources they use to assist them in selecting material, like:
• colleagues’ recommendations
• book lists
• bookstore and library displays
• book review sites
• author sites
• social networking sites
• professional book review publications
• book vendor and publisher sites
• book clubs
• random choices based covers or blurbs
• culling current book reads (within the text or in recommended reads at the end)
Children only use some of these, of course, relying also on community conversations, read-alouds, and book drawings.
Part of self-selecting is sometimes choosing to abandon a book. Depending on why this is happening, it can be evidence of either mature or immature reading experience. (Good reasons to abandon a book: it just isn’t delivering on its promise. Other reasons: a reader isn’t tutored in how to choose apt titles for herself, a reader lacks a strong understanding of how narratives work and can’t thus can’t sustain reading through a “draggy spot,” or the text is simply too complex for self-reading.)
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
Self explanatory, no? Talking books, lending books, reading books suggested by a loved-one. It all counts.
I’ll add that I still read aloud to my adult children, and they read to me. I also sometimes read to friends, and they read to me. We enter the world of ideas or the world of magical places simultaneously, and this is a beautiful, enlivening experience.
4. They have reading plans.
This can be quite a loose plan…
• a stack of to-read books by the bed
• keeping a to-read list
• reserving library books
• pre-ordering new releases
• using book award lists
There are also “challenge plans” like
• book gap (stretch or fill perceived “deficits”)
• commitments to series or author reading.
5. They show preferences.
Also self explanatory. But it’s worth asking ourselves why the preferences. And it’s worth engaging in occasional genre-switching, despite preferences, to shake things loose in our lives or our writing.
Now that you know what a wild reader tends to do, let’s share our wild-reading lives. I’ll go first.
April was a challenging month for me schedule-wise and house ‘n necessaries management-wise. I still haven’t bailed April’s showers from my life boat, and while I’ve kept my weekly work on track I’m still living with a car that’s in pieces at the mechanics’ (over two weeks now), a fridge that doesn’t fridge any more (coolers on the back porch are about to be less than effective), a chimney that doesn’t chimney anymore (and thus, no heat), a daughter’s computer that doesn’t compute, and the list goes on. I won’t bother you with the full list. Instead, I’ll share my April pages. It’s a much more interesting list (and one I’d rather recommend! 🙂 ).
Also, I should probably note that I have no children under the age of 17. This makes some of my selections potentially more surprising.
(This often includes transferring all notes to my “reading notebook.”
Okay, not for Eric Carle.)
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life, Twyla Tharp
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson
The Wild Swans, Jackie Morris
Sunday is for the Sun, Monday is for the Moon: Teaching Reading, One Teacher and Thirty Children at a Time, Sandra Priest Rose & Glen Nelson
Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea, Pablo Neruda (this was a re-read)
Early Readers and Picture Books
As Fast as Words Could Fly, Pamela M. Tuck; Eric Velasquez, illustrator
Boris and the Wrong Shadow, Leigh Hodgkinson
Elephants Cannot Dance!, Mo Willems
Florence Nightingale, Demi
From Head to Toe, Eric Carle
I Am Invited to a Party!, Mo Willems
I Love My New Toy!, Mo Willems
Roxaboxen, Alice McLerran; Barbara Cooney, illustrator
Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth, Eric Carle
Tell Me a Dragon, Jackie Morris
The Bat Boy and His Violin, Gavin Curtis; E.B. Lewis, illustrator
The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Edward Gorey
This book just ate my dog!, Richard Byrne
Wangari Maathi: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees, Franck Prévot; Aurélia Fronty, illustrator
We Are in a Book!, Mo Willems
10 Rubber Ducks, Eric Carle
(1/4 to 1/2 Only: Got What I Needed and Moved On
or Plan to Finish Someday)
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson
Butter: A Rich History, Elaine Khosrova
Across My Silence, Jack Cooper
Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing, Constance Hale
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose, Constance Hale
Phonics for Dummies, Susan M. Greve
(The Jury is Still Out. Will I Finish?)
Phonics in Proper Perspective, Arthur W. Heilman
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stanier
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, James Gleick
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, Francine Prose
Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Siegfried Englemann & Phyllis Haddox
The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, Steven Pinker
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, Steven Pinker
Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get It Published, Susan Rabiner & Alfred Fortunato
1. Share anything about you and the 5 main wild reader characteristics. How do you tend to display them, or wish you did, or plan to in the future?
2. Share your April pages. Finished, sliced, started, and abandoned are all game.
Photo by Hiroyuki Takeda, Creative Commons, via Flickr.